A wonderful country! I visited Panama 20 years ago but never saw it like this. First, it was wonderful to be with my siblings and niece, and second we got to discover many incredible critters.
Here I am giving gifts to the Embera children, in a canoe on the way to see them, watching sister Janet connect with an Embera child, and me, the gringo, enjoying a local Panamanian family fair.
Monday, January 16, 2012
The Embera found a River otter and made it a pet. While niece Clara was swimming, it brushed against her leg -- scary! The otter doesn't bite, though, and just goes swimming then makes its way back home for loving and food. The other image is another type of pet but I have no clue what it is...any guesses?
The Embera-Wounaans are one of 7 indigenous groups living in Panama. This tribe numbers close to 35,000 and mostly live in the Darien region, near Columbia. They live in small villages of several families and continue traditional living habits. They use plants for medicinal purposes, including to keep body hair from growing on male and female children - this is partially so that they can use other plants for temporary tattoos to keep insects away. We visited a village of 113 that is closer to Panama City - a great trip on a canoe up the river. Here the are the beautiful women, one on the river and the other demonstrating basket making. They use plants for dying shredded leaves - gorgeous work.
Wikipedia - who maintains that their howls can be heard for 20 miles! They hang out and run around the tree tops, using their tails to grab onto branches.
These cute little monkeys are Capuchins - name so because they look like cappuchino coffee. We saw them on a boat trip on Lake Gatun, the man made lake supporting the Panama Canal. We parked our little boat and they became quite curious - eventually finding a peanut on our boat. At one point I reached up to touch one and it slapped my hand hard. We were told NOT to smile because it appears as an agressive teeth baring gesture the monkeys use to fend off each other and predators. Cute AND wild.
These Leafcutter ants are fascinating. Here I caught them climbing up a tree, then cutting off a piece of the leaf, and hauling it back down to the nest. Fungus grows on the leaves and fungi are what the ants love to eat. According to Wikipedia, "Next to humans, leafcutter ants form the largest and most complex animal societies on Earth." Their nests can grow to 98 feet across and contain 8 million of these insects.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
This looks like a Panamanian favorite: EIGHT different flavors of SPAM (how creative). You can get with Cheese, Garlic, Pavo, black Pepper, two kinds of chopped, and for the health conscious: 25% less sodium or 50% less fat (yeah, right). If you aren't into Spam, you can get vienna sausages (on the left) or Pork Luncheon meat (on the right). Just what this vegetarian was seeking!! NOT....